Ok, ok, ok, I know there are few "jokes" that bother us in the Barilkosphere more than those stupid "plan the parade" ones, but I had to get you to click on the link to this article somehow.
The truth is, today actually does mark an important date. If the NHL season ended today (only 17 games in!) your Toronto Maple Leafs would make the playoffs with the #8 seed, which is a testament to how Ron Wilson has this young club playing - and which is far more than we can say about the Leafs teams of the past few years.
A lot has already been written about last night's win against the Oilers, and I don't want to be overly repetitive except to say that it was a big win - on the road, in the Oilers' barn, and coming after a loss in Calgary. This team is making some very impressive strides. Stajan continues to improve and impress (Archimedes points out that he's actually 25th in the league in scoring), Ian White is rocking Wendel Clarke's old 'stache and even Jason Blake showed up last night looking like he might actually still want to play hockey at the NHL level.
Of course, the Burke speculation is going to continue until he signs on the dotted line in TO and holds his first press conference... at which point the speculation will switch to "what's he going to do now?" It is an important question though because despite the graphic above, I continue to believe that this team needs to stay focused on the long haul and not be swayed by the lure of making a late season acquisition for the sole purpose of making a run this year. If you can get a guy who fits into the long term building plan - obviously do it. But no more abusing cap space and trading picks for short term rentals. I hope you're reading this, Mr. Burke.
As noted, I am impressed with this team, but I also think we're still a long way away from going into a seven game series as the 8 seed vs. PIT or MTL and being able to win it. Even still, its increasingly looking like Burke is walking into a pretty good situation. Fletecher has done most of the grocery shopping and Ron is helping to set the table. Its time for Burke to come home with the final ingredients and put this baby together over the next few years.
UPDATE: Let's all wish Smokey a very Happy Birthday!